Thursday, June 25, 2015

2016 Budget -The Greens Give The Government A Hand - We Have Now Had The Last Week of Parliament Until Spring.

June 25 Edition
Budget Night was May 12, 2015.
The selling phase is over and now we are to see the passage through Parliament this week.
What is most confusing is what is going on with PBS drug prices and consumer costs. It has always seemed to me Government savings and consumer benefit are tricky to reconcile. See the pharmacy section for apparently contradictory articles from Sue Dunlevy and Sam Maiden (both of News Corp.)
See the last 2 articles!
Here is some of the recent news and analysis.

General Budget Issues.

Abbott, Hockey and Dutton kick own goals

Date June 14, 2015 - 9:00PM
The government is being seen - especially in Sydney - as increasingly out of touch on same-sex marriage, housing affordability and citizenship.
EDITORIAL
And the winner is  … nobody, least of all voters. The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows what happens when a government won't tackle policy problems,  looks devoid of empathy and comes across as out of touch with community values. It also shows what happens when an opposition leader struggles to capitalise.
The post-budget bounce the Abbott government enjoyed in May has vanished, thanks in part to wavering support in NSW.
The performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton seems to have riled voters.
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  • Jun 15 2015 at 12:42 PM
  • Updated Jun 15 2015 at 4:46 PM

'No solid data' small business drives the economy

It is pathetic governments thinking that small business people are big swing voters.

The start-up community says high-risk enterprises such as Uber and Airbnb can't be compared with small accounting companies or local cafes. Chris Hyde
Economist and tax expert John Freebairn has challenged the notion that small business is the engine room of the economy, as federal Parliament approved $5 billion in tax cuts for the sector.
"There is no solid data to support an assertion that small business is the driver of the economy," said the University of Melbourne professor who provided advice to the Henry tax review.
"It is pathetic governments thinking that small business people are big swing voters."
On Monday, the Senate passed the federal government's $5.5 billion budget small business and jobs package, giving a formal green light for a range of measures including the $20,000 instant asset write off that started on budget night.
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Hockey's black hole: Budget forecast too optimistic says Victoria Uni modelling

David Donovan 17 June 2015, 5:30pm 13
Victoria University economics forecasts show the Government's Economic Outlook and "path back to surplus" is a pipe dream, with GDP growth forecasts being dependent on unrealistic productivity increases and falling real wages. Managing editor David Donovan reports.
ECONOMISTS have been saying they thought Treasurer Joe Hockey's claims of a "credible path back to surplus” involved some rather heroic projections, particularly around GDP growth.
This analysis has been further confirmed, with Victoria University economic forecasts released in Melbourne this morning showing that not only are the Abbott Government’s growth forecasts far too optimistic, but that Australia’s living standards have peaked and look set to decline over the next decade.
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Australia/China Free Trade Agreement: Good for exports, less good for national sovereignty

Date June 18, 2015 - 8:22AM

Peter Martin

Analysis

Australia and China sign landmark trade deal

Australian households will save approximately $4,500 per year by 2035 from trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea.
Chinese companies will gain the right to sue Australian governments in international tribunals under an agreement that will eventually allow 95 per cent of Australian goods exports to enter China duty-free.
Declaring Wednesday a "momentous day", prime minister Tony Abbott said he and China's commerce minister Gao Hucheng would one day be able to say to their grandchildren: "yes, we were there the day this extraordinary agreement was signed".
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Health Budget Issues.

Federal cuts to health will hit poor hardest, internal documents reveal

Date June 18, 2015 - 6:12PM

Harriet Alexander

The federal government's cuts to public hospital will hit the poor the hardest, resulting in longer waiting lists and cuts to services in rural areas, internal documents reveal.
Senior public servants anticipate that elective surgery lists will blow out as the NSW government attempts to do more with less, and those who cannot afford private health cover will bear the brunt.
The federal government slashed its contribution to state health budgets in March when it walked away from the activity based funding model, whereby hospitals are allocated funding according to the operations they perform rather than simply topping up their previous budgets for inflation.
Instead it announced that funding would only be increased in line with inflation and population growth.
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Chemotherapy shake-up means patient certainty: Sussan Ley

Sean Parnell

A tiered payment scheme for the providers of chemotherapy drugs will underpin a $372 million ­investment that Health Minister Sussan Ley believes will provide greater certainty for 150,000 ­patients.
Following on from the Abbott government’s recent pharmacy dispensing agreement, Ms Ley is to announce a new five-year funding package for compounding chemists and bulk providers of chemotherapy drugs.
Soon after the Coalition took power, the new government allocated $81m over 18 months to allay concerns over the viability of chemotherapy compounding services. When that funding ­expires at the end of the month, the larger providers will continue receiving $60 per infusion from the government, but smaller, unlicensed outfits will see those payments drop to $40.
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Health Department chief Martin Bowles says restructure will tackle culture problems but won't cut jobs

Date June 17, 2015 - 7:54PM

Markus Mannheim

The federal Health Department is poised for an overhaul but its chief says the restructure won't result in any job losses.
Martin Bowles outlined the draft plan to his 3500 mostly Canberra-based staff on Wednesday, saying it would help create a better working environment.
The restructure, an outcome of a confidential "functional and efficiency review" carried out in recent months, is expected to save about $25 million a year.
It was also guided by the findings of a highly critical review last year, which warned that staff suffered from overwork, risk aversion, micromanagement and "inappropriate behaviour" such as bullying.
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Mental health sector overhaul blueprint to be delivered

Sean Parnell

A blueprint for an overhaul of the mental health sector will be delivered to the Abbott government within months as Health Minister Sussan Ley moves to secure widespread support for workable reforms.
Ms Ley has established a 13-member expert reference group, chaired by former ACT chief minister and Beyond Blue CEO Kate Carnell, and will consult widely on issues raised in the National Mental Health Commission’s damning review.
The review, provided to the government last year and leaked to the media in April, was meant to provide a way forward. But Ms Ley has already ruled out a central recommendation — to divert $1 billion in hospital funding to community care — and is still working through related issues with the States and restructuring primary health structures and funding.
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Pharmacy Issues.

Pharmacists urged to dump dubious products if they want to do doctors' work

Date June 15, 2015 - 6:01PM

Julia Medew, Health Editor

Pharmacists should stop selling dubious products including homeopathy if they want to perform work currently done by doctors under a federal government trial, a leading GP says.
As pharmacists prepare to take on more medical work under a multi-billion dollar deal with the federal government, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Frank R Jones, said baseless homeopathic treatments should not sit alongside conventional medical treatments in retail pharmacies.
"We would certainly encourage our pharmacy colleagues to really critically look at what they are selling at their chemists," he said.
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Cheaper pharmaceutical drugs close under biosimilars breakthrough

Sean Parnell

Australians would have greater access to cheaper drugs under a landmark proposal being considered by the Abbott government.
The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which recommends new drugs for government subsidies, has opened the door to a new range of drugs known as biosimilars.
Unlike generic medicines, which usually contain the same ingredients as their patented biologic counterparts, biosimilars act the same but may have a different composition. Their arrival promises to revolutionise drug manufacturing around the world.
Experts on the PBAC recently made a recommendation to allow biologics to be substituted with biosimilar drugs by clinicians and pharmacists if the biosimilar has been found to be a safe and effective equivalent treatment. Each application would be considered on its merits by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and PBAC.
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Cloud of doubt over 6CPA

19 June, 2015 Meg Pigram
As reported by Pharmacy News only three sitting days remain for the Senate to pass the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill, which is required before the 6CPA will be implemented.
If the bill is not passed by Thursday 26 June (the last Senate sitting day before the 30 June expiry of the 5CPA) the agreement will not be implemented and existing location rules will have expired, leaving a legislative vacuum over where pharmacies can, or cannot, be opened.
The Guild has issued a detailed statement outlining its concerns regarding the narrow timeframe remaining to pass the bill.

Health Minister Sussan Ley urges Senate to pass deal that could halve price of common medicines

21 June, 2015
The Federal Health Minister is putting pressure on the Senate to pass legislation that could see the price of some of Australia's most common medicines halved.
Sussan Ley last month signed off on new agreements with the Pharmacy Guild and Generic Medicines Industry Association that would save the budget more than $2 billion over five years.
The Government calculated that under the deal the price of more than 2,000 brands of prescription medicines would also fall, Ms Ley said.
"Overall within this package there is a very strong downward trend on the price of medicines, particularly the most common and popular medicines that people take," she said.
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Slashed drug prices could mean hundreds more for families every year even beyond the PBS

FAMILIES will save hundreds of dollars a year for everyday medicines for cholesterol, depression and osteoporosis under changes to pass the Senate this week.
More than 2,000 brands designed to treat Australia’s most common ailments will be slashed in price by up to $22 a script under a shake-up of pharmacy pricing negotiated by Health Minister Sussan Ley.
The changes will take effect from October, 2016 and will complement reforms that allow pharmacists to drop the patient co-payment by up to $1 per script to boost competition.
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Price rise hits 50 per cent of prescription medicines on July 1

  • June 20, 2015 5:07PM
  • Sue Dunlevy - news.com.au
EXCLUSIVE:Almost 5 million people using the most commonly prescribed pills found in bathroom cabinets will see their medicine prices rise by up to 39 per cent next month.
The price of cholesterol, blood pressure, stomach acid and diabetes medicines will rise by up to $3.41 a month as a result of a secret change in the way chemists are paid.
Patients with diabetes and heart problems who frequently use up to seven treatments could see their drug costs rise by around $18 a month or nearly $220 a year.
The price of nation’s biggest selling medicine, cholesterol lowering atorvastatin, used by 721,000 people will rise by $2.39 a script.
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It is going to be very interesting to see what happens to the polls and consumer confidence over the next 2-3 months - especially if we see the Senate knocking more savings back as is seeming likely! Already there was a small drop in confidence last week and but some improvement this week. The monthly measurement - post budget - was not good at all!
Enjoy.
David.

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